Top 25 Best HBCUs In the US | 2021 Rankings

Best HBCUs badgeHistorically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs for short, are schools established with the primary purpose of serving the African American community before the Civil Rights Movement.

While they may have historic roots, HBCUs are still incredibly important today. They are beacons of the ongoing fight for equality and progress. Given the societal importance of movements like Black Lives Matter, we wanted to highlight the best HBCUs around the country.

Out of the over 100 HBCUs still operating today in America, the following 25 are the strongest institutions of the bunch. The schools continue in the spirit of their original missions, providing academic opportunities for ethnic minorities and underrepresented communities.

Top 25 Best HBCUs

Spelman is the oldest all-women’s HBCU in the United States, having been chartered in 1924. The bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education offered, meaning you’ll only find undergraduates on campus. Many notable people have studied at Spelman, including Bernice King, LaTanya Richardson, and Alice Walker among many others.
Location Atlanta, GA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,171
“Veritas et Utilitas” (Truth and Service) is the motto of this famed HBCU. At Howard, 68% of the student body studies at the undergraduate level. Biology, Political Science, Communication, Public Relations, and Psychology are the 5 most popular majors on campus. The official school colors are a patriotic red, white, and blue.
Location Washington, DC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 9,139
Also known as Florida A&M or FAMU, this university is both an HBCU and a land-grant school. Orange and green are the colors worn by Rattlers sports teams. Their mascot is called Venom the Rattlesnake. Florida A&M receives around 10,270 applications every year and accepts about 3,700 -- giving the school a 36% acceptance rate.
Location Tallahassee, FL
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 10,021
Cradled by the Hampton River, this university consists of 85% undergraduates, and 15% graduate students studying on campus. Psychology, Biology, Organizational Communication, Business Administration, and Liberal Arts and Sciences are the 5 most popular majors. Notable alumni include Booker T. Washington, Wanda Sykes, and Mary Jackson, among others.
Location Hampton, VA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,321
Gold and white are the colors for Xavier University of Louisiana -- also known as XULA. It is the only Catholic HBCU in the United States. The school was founded by Saint Katharine Drexel in 1925. The campus is located not far from the twisting Mississippi River. XULA has an acceptance rate of 60% and a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1.
Location New Orleans, LA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,231
Ronald McNair, Jesse Jackson, Taraji P. Henson, and Dwaine Board are just a few of the notable names that have studied at North Carolina A&T. A whopping 87.5% of the student body population study at the undergraduate level. Mass Communication / Media Studies is the most popular major on campus.
Location Greensboro, NC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 12,142
Maroon and grey are the official colors of the NCCU Eagles. Some popular sports on campus include track, basketball, football, and tennis. 75% of students receive an institutional grant to help cover the cost of college. While 75% of first year students do come from North Carolina, many others come from up and down the East Coast.
Location Durham, NC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 8,207
The legendary W.E.B. Du Bois graduated from Fisk University back in 1888. Other alums include politicians, inventors, actors, authors, scholars, and more. Though located in Tennessee, only 19% of the incoming class comes from the state. Believe it or not, 20.5% of the first-year class comes from Illinois.
Location Nashville, TN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 780
“Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve” is the motto of this HBCU of North Carolina. 91% of the student population study at the undergraduate level. The school has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Registered Nursing, Health Care Management, Kinesiology, Business Administration, and Biology are the most popular majors on campus.
Location Winston-Salem, NC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 5,190
Maroon and white are the official colors of the Morehouse College Tigers. The bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education offered, which is why you’ll only find undergraduate students on campus. Additionally, Morehouse is one of the few remaining all-men’s colleges left in the United States.
Location Atlanta, GA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,206
The campus of Philander Smith College is located just south of the mighty Arkansas River. 79% of the students at Philander Smith College receive some form of institutional grant to help cover the cost of college. Some popular sports on campus include basketball, track, and volleyball. For every 16 students there is 1 faculty member.
Location Little Rock, AR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,000
Lincoln University -- also known as LU -- was America’s first degree-granting HBCU. 89% of the students studying on campus are considered undergraduates. Though 49% of the incoming class comes from the state of Pennsylvania, many others come from neighboring states New York and Maryland.
Location Lincoln University, PA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 2,376
Claflin University’s students wear orange and maroon to show off their school pride. Psychology, Criminal Justice, Mass Communications, Biology, and Business Administration are the top 5 most popular majors studied on campus. Graduates of the school have gone on to become business owners, scholars, actors, photographers, and activists.
Location Orangeburg, SC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,172
Every year, approximately 9,200 applications are sent to Dillard University, though the school will only accept around 3,590 of them -- giving the school an acceptance rate of 39%. Of the students attending this HBCU, 99% of them receive some form of institutional grant to help cover the cost of college.
Location New Orleans, LA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,309
Located in the capital city of Dover, Delaware State University’s main campus is 400 acres. The school colors are red and Columbia blue and their mascot is the Hornet. Popular sports on campus include baseball, football, equestrian, lacrosse, and soccer. Mass Communications / Media Studies is the top major on campus.
Location Dover, DE
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 4,586
Also known as ASU or simply Alcorn, this university’s motto is “Where Knowledge and Character Matter.” The campus is located near the Mississippi River and surrounded by greenery. ASU’s application process is quite affordable; though graduate applications cost $10, undergraduate apps are free.
Location Alcorn State, MS
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,658
Tuskegee University accepts just over half of all students who apply to the school. Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Psychology, Animal Sciences, and Registered Nursing are the top 5 most popular majors on campus. For every faculty member on campus there are 14 students. Crimson and gold are the official school colors students wear while cheering on the Golden Tigers.
Location Alcorn State, MS
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,026
Elizabeth City State University’s school motto doubles as a great life lesson -- “To Live is to Learn.” Fittingly, the school seal features an hourglass. The campus is located near the Pasquotank River. A whopping 98% of students on campus study at the undergraduate level. The remaining 2%, therefore, are graduate students.
Location Elizabeth City, NC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,677
Despite starting out as an industrial college, music plays a large role at Oakwood University. From graduates going on to become famous jazz musicians to a variety of musical groups on campus. General Studies, Biology, Registered Nursing, Non-Profit Management, and Theology are the most popular majors on campus.
Location Hunstville, AL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,636
“Where History Meets the Future” is the motto of this liberal-arts HBCU. The college has a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1 and a first-year retention rate of 74%. Royal blue and scarlet are the colors worn by the Tougaloo Bulldogs at sporting events. Popular sports include basketball, tennis, track, and baseball.
Location Tougaloo, MS
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 736
Located in the state capital of Atlanta, this university offers the doctor’s degree as the highest level of education. That being said, 85% of the student population are studying for their bachelor’s degree. Clark Atlanta University -- also known as CAU -- has an acceptance rate of 55%. 24% of the incoming class calls Georgia home, but students come from all over the US.
Location Atlanta, GA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,911
Located just north of the Elizabeth River, Norfolk State University’s students are nicknamed the Spartans. The school has a rather uplifting official motto -- “We See the Future in You.” Students took that phrase to heart, going on to become notable musicians, writers, athletes, scientists, and activists.
Location Norfolk, VA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 5,204
Business Administration, Biology, Interdisciplinary Studies, Criminology, and Media Studies are the top 5 most popular majors at Johnson C Smith University. Also known as JCSU, this school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1. 67% of the students on campus receive some form of institutional grant to help pay for college.
Location Charlotte, NC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,565
Black and gold are the colors of the Bowie State University Bulldogs. Their mascot is named Butch. A whopping 87% of the incoming class calls the state of Maryland home. Business Administration, Radio and Television Broadcasting, and Psychology are the top three most popular majors on campus.
Location Bowie, MD
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 6,320
Royal purple and gold are the official school colors of the Prairie View A&M Panthers. Track, football, golf, and basketball are popular sports on campus. The school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1. 89% of the first year class comes from the state of Texas. Registered Nursing is the most popular major.
Location Prairie View, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 9,516

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

Methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

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